I have six months to reshape my life. I can do this.

Friday, October 02, 2009


I was drawn to Luke 15 today to read. This is the chapter with the Lost Parables - sheep, coin and son.

I assume this is where the 20th Century church coined their comfortable phrase as "being lost" to describe someone outside the body of Christ. However, after reading through this chapter a few times, I wonder if we missed the original meaning behind the parables.

We speak of the sheep and the coin and the son as if they are outside the family - without any previous ownership or are brand new. We equate these parables with people who have yet to become Followers of Christ. But that isn't really the case, now, is it.

The sheep was in the fold. The coin was in the purse with the other nine. The son was already a member of the family. They already had their place. They already followed a shepherd, belonged to a master and stood to inherit as a son of the father in the story.

The sheep is lost. Maybe it wandered off. Maybe it was separated from the flock. Maybe it nibbled its way off without really noticing what was going on. Regardless, the shepherd left the other 99 in an open field, where they might be safe in their numbers, to go off and find the one.

The coin was lost, misplaced by the woman. She lost track of it. But once she realized it was gone, she scoured her house, overturning furniture, checking under every cushion. She went back over every place she would have left it. She thought about the last place she had it. She searched carefully, meticulously, until she found it.

The son chose to leave. He took what was due him and left. He walked away from the family. There is no denying it. The younger son chose to leave the family. Eventually he realized the only way for him to truly live was not in sin, apart from the family. He noticed that the life the servants of the family was better than the one he was living. So he came back. While he was gone, the father was out looking down the road every day for him. He was hoping that one day that lost son would turn up, come home. He ran to his son and welcomed him back with warmth and grace. He never asked what happened. No "I told you so." He never made any mention of why the son left or what junk the son encountered during his rebellion.

As a minister these stories strike a real chord with me today.

As a shepherd, how many students have I allowed to wander away? How quick have I have been to go find them? So many students really are not equipped to cope with what life throws at them. It is my job to stand in the gap, lead them to safe places and go get them when they leave. Am I willing to make the difficult phone call? Am I willing to step into an uncomfortable conversation? Am I observant enough to know when the sheep has truly wandered off?

What about when it was my actions, my words, my lack of attention that helped to move someone out. It happens. People need an extra touch. Some need more time and more attention. The hurt and pain in their lives merit it at that specific season they find themselves. Am I willing to give them that? And if I don't and they end up gone, am I willing to meticulously communicate my concern and care for them by exhausting every avenue to get them back?

And what if they leave? What if it is clear that the student is having a crisis of faith and there is nothing I can say in the moment. They are going to take what they want and leave. Am I willing to wait and watch for them prayerfully and graciously? And when they come back, do I treat them with anything less the genuine compassion?

I draw a line in my ministry sand today. I will no longer accept it when a student wanders off. If you leave my ministry, if you disappear, if you wander away distracted, expect a full court press from me and the students and workers. You have some of my kids gracing your place, youth pastor? Expect a large youth pastor to make you very uncomfortable and fight for our sheep, our precious treasure, our family. I will drive to Tuttle, OKC, Norman...I don't care. I will come and sit in your office and ask you point blank why you allowed someone from another family, another flock to wander into yours.

I have been less than stellar at this. I am now going to sort of take these absences personally. I don't see you, I am calling you. I am going to push you, student, to come to church on Sunday and Wednesday and Monday nights and Sunday nights and every event and anything else I can think of. You haven't been baptized? I may just show up with a horse trough at your house!

Jesus loved us with a relentless love. In these stories he talks about what HE was willing to do to bring us back to the fold. What am I willing to do? What are you willing to do?

I am too old to care about what people think about me, especially if they are not a member of my church, my family, my flock.

And how did each of these stories end when there was reconciliation? When the lost became found? There was a party. We always say the same thing when someone becomes a follower of Christ - there is a party in heaven. Well, according to what Jesus says, when one comes BACK to the fold, we are to celebrate.

That means it is time to throw some shindigs. Go bring BACK what was once part of your treasure, family and flock. Relentlessly search for them. Meticulously exhaust every avenue until they return. And when they do, celebrate like you just won the Super Bowl.


Blogger Julie Morgan said...

LOVE this post. LOVE IT! Remember that if you call and they don't call back, the fact that you called matters. I still remember how much it meant to me to get just such a call. I was too depressed at the time to reach back, but 20 years later it still matters.

7:08 PM


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